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Sharpening, Reading, Listening, Watching, Timing.

Tuesday April 2, 2024

A photo of a lap with an apple, a pocket knife, and a ham radio tuned to a local FM broadcast station

Above: It’s finally sunny here again. So, a snack, some radio time, some whittling (snack whittling!).

More stuff has been on my mind again, so I should let it out.

As usual, this post will be very theoretical (“I’m GROUNDED, in theory”), somewhat grandiose, awkwardly self-deprecating for vague reasons, detail-oriented over here, but concept-oriented over there, and other dumb things like that. You have been warned!

So, no particular order:

Tools, Knives, Pocketknives, Paracord

I’ve learned a lot about sharpening my various tools and knives. This kind of started after I realized I never really found a favorite method for sharpening and honing.

Just when I thought I was settled on “I kind of like dull knives?” (long story, but as a Scout I sure did a lot with nothing very sharp…), I get interested in the sharp ones!

I think this has also been an interesting topic to me lately in part because of the idea of making solid, direct judgement calls relating to “moving on” with different aspects of life. (You could call them severance-related, cutting-off related even? But those terms while helpful to communicate the concept, are also way too harsh in a big way) So, there’s certainly a sort of archetypal tie-in energy that seems to be behind the interest.

I settled on a pretty simple double-sided whetstone for now, and the results are good enough. I’ve been able to get some edges up to “crazy sharp”, but I’m sure I have a lot more to discover.

I’ve been using and abusing various tools and knives. I learned to braid and wrap paracord, and I’ve played a lot with different color combinations.

Tarot and the Occult

It’s been fun to use the tarot deck as a creativity tool. There are some books out there that cover this topic really well. And they’ve helped open my mind to angles and aspects I haven’t considered.

I have a little tarot-draw script in my text editor, which pulls the cards for me and it’s all pretty simple.

Emacs Progress

I continue to study Emacs. My latest changes are:

  • Randomized themes: Every time my init file is loaded, I get a random editor theme (background color, colors per level in org mode, and a random font), or I can use C-S-c to cycle through random themes. It’s pretty fun, the change is instantaneous, and I like this way more than actually creating and managing many different themes, which I’ve also done before.
  • Using TempEl like crazy. This snippets-like add-on is a must for me. I have so many shortcuts I use with it that help me do just about anything I do in an editor during the day.
  • Writing more of my own functions. I’m using elisp a lot more. This is causing me to want to use or learn more of other lisp or scheme dialects.

Ham Radio Hobby

I’m still quietly listening and learning, mostly. I do still use my radios a ton when I’m out hiking.

My latest interest here is the firmware-modified Quansheng UV-K6, which has kind of blown my mind! It’s really pretty amazing what that thing can do, and how many little checkboxes it can check! Just about every little portable / hiking annoyance I’ve ever had has now been solved by that radio and its custom firmware (I’m using EZGumer).


My practices here have evolved a lot.

I do a lot more trail maintenance now.

I have lots of favorite tools, and I have cut and moved a LOT more wood than I thought I would, after storms rolled through.

I didn’t imagine I’d end up carrying a 10 inch folding saw up there, and wondering about even longer ones! These things are pretty amazing.

Sometimes I’ll leave the house and walk + hike for a couple hours to get to where up in the hills where there’s a fallen tree, then I’ll cut it up, move the pieces off the trail, and head home for another couple of hours. I really enjoy this.

I also love listening to movie podcasts and local radio stations while I’m hiking around. Just getting a nice mix of sounds going in the background is really pleasant (Se/Te in a Big Wey)


The Long Good Friday (1980) was excellent.

I feel very lucky to have seen a lot of really good movies lately.

I also feel lucky to have seen a lot of really bad movies that were a lot of fun.


I’m still reading books, and listening to them, a lot more than I had in previous years. This has been a fun change. Some recent fun ones:

  • War Stories of the Tankers by Michael Green
  • Nisei by J.J. White
  • The Drawing Ideas Book by Frances Stanfield
  • This Explains Everything by John Brockman
  • Star Trek Voyager: Battle Lines by Dave Galanter and Greg Brodeur
  • Healing in Hell by Ken Adams
  • Bird’s-Eye View by J.F. Freedman
  • NATO and Warsaw Pact Tanks of the Cold War also by Michael Green

Reading is kinda interesting in itself, now that I’m really into archetypes and symbolism. I try to see some aspect of myself in the cover art, in the topic, the title, or just the vibe.

War. Relations with friends, loved ones, family. Creativity. Ideas. Space. Battle. Hell. Birds. Viewing. Pacts, Commands, Wars. Hot and Cold.

Are these really my mental state? I find that war is an emotionally-expressive, boundary-reclaiming metaphor for me. I was raised by an army officer, so that’s a big part of my symbolic vocabulary.

See, sometimes as I wrap up in my nostalgic camouflage woobie and read a bit more about the T-80, or someone’s favorite theory, I just get a feeling of comfort from familiarity. I’m reading my own past, and I’m reviewing it, and I’m trying to bring a few more of those experiences and points of view and strengths forward.

This, to me, is a lot of what the midlife change really dwells on: Your past was a vocabulary, a language. You’re still fluent in it. So why are you trying so hard to move away from that fluency? You could get what you wanted, life wasn’t so bad, and hey, what about…(good points aplenty)

There are so many good points in even some of my dumbest past experiences. Ugh!

Art and Drawing

I’ve been doing a lot more drawing, with something of an energy-reset.

I’m rebuilding on past successes more than I did before. I feel like I have a pretty good assortment of media and methods to pick from, and so I’m more likely to use some of those.

So, I still draw with pencil on lined paper, in cheap spiral-bound school notebooks, a lot. I draw mechs, I draw mind maps, flow charts, and hundreds of checkboxes.

I’ve made some textile art, painting T-shirts and such. I’m going to continue that, because it’s been really enjoyable.

I also modded a backpack with some custom paracord decorations and patches, and had a lot of fun doing so.

Art is so restorative in its way. It brings back these expressive energies and says, “is it so purely emotional to simply create? Can’t creation be recognized as amazing on its own, even if backed by pure emotion, pure intuition, pure logic, and so on?”

This is another one of those “good points”. Not every hobby has to be integrative at any given point, even if it ends up taking that route.

Business Hours

I talked a bit about energy fluctuations last time.

I think of them as “Business Hours” now.

During parts of the day, your body and mind are open for business. During this time, you can do integrative work. New stuff meets your same-old me, and new activities meet your same-old ways, and it’s normal and fine.

And during other parts, you’re closed. No vacancy. During this time, you can do personal work. Stuff you WANNA do. None of that integrative BS! If you force it during these hours—forcing personal time to be business hours? Your body and mood chemistry will make you pay, sometimes dearly.

The weird thing is, the timing of all of this is utterly predictable, once you’ve given it some basic analysis.

If you can predict it, you’ll have better control over your life. You’ll probably wonder what happened, or why no one taught you this.

So, I think everyone should try learning their business hours. I find I get about three to four solid business-hours periods during normal workday hours. When they’re over though, they’re over!

Someday I’ll write up a formal method, maybe.

But for now, consider yourself aware! It may not just be your mood, or your attitude. It may not be your life choices.

It may just be what time it is right now.

As grandma would say: How about that?

Have a great week everybody!

Filed in: Movies & Films /4/ | Interests /111/ | Energy /120/

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